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Tennessee lawmakers convene for special session Monday

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NASVHILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Tennessee lawmakers return to Capitol Hill Monday to consider pandemic lawsuit restrictions, expansion of telehealth services, and additional measures to control protesters.

Job one for state lawmakers will be passing new pandemic civil liability protections (HB8001) for health care providers, schools, businesses and non-profit organizations.

The leadership of the GOP dominated state House and Senate failed to pass pandemic tort reform during the regular session. Negotiations broke down in acrimony over whether coronavirus lawsuit protections would be made retroactive.

Gov. Lee indicated during a press conference last week that the impasse had been resolved. As written, the bill does not appear to provide retroactive protection for the early months of the health crisis. The change in Tennessee tort law would take effect Aug. 3, and expire July 1, 2022.

As introduced, the measure would grant immunity from “civil liability for loss, damages, injury, or death arising from COVID-19, unless the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence of gross negligence or willful misconduct.”

The governor is also advancing a bill (HB8005) that would give state officials wider power to prosecute demonstrators. As written, the measure would grant the State Attorney General authority to investigate and prosecute crimes “when the victim is a state employee, state property was damaged,” or state business was interrupted."

Rep. John Ray Clemmons panned the bill in a twitter post Sunday night. The Nashville Democrat argues the bill would “criminalize peaceful protesters,” and “usurp the jurisdiction of local prosecutors.”

The Tennessee General Assembly will open its special session Monday evening at 4 p.m.

 

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